Transparent mice may revolutionise cancer drug testing

MUNICH: A new scanning method using transparent laboratory mice could revolutionise cancer drug testing by identifying tumours that were once too small to detect, a study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology has found.

The study was led by Professor Ali Ertürk of the Helmholtz Munich research centre.

In 2018, Ertürk discovered a method to make dead mice transparent. His team has now worked out the usage of chemicals to highlight specific tissues of the see-through mice, which can be scanned in detail to reveal even the smallest of cancer tumours.

According to a BBC News report, in a major breakthrough the team detected cancerous tumours in the first stages of formation at a cellular level using this technique.

According to the researchers, this method reveals far greater detail than existing scanning techniques like MRI and PET scans.

“MRI and PET scans would show you only big tumours. Ours show tumours at the single cell, which they absolutely can’t,” Ertürk said.

This has the potential to revolutionise drug testing and research, as the use of mice is a laboratory staple in the sphere of cancer drug development.

The new scanning method allows researchers to study diseases in view of the entire body of the mouse, providing a better understanding of the impact of drugs being tested.

The method also involves the creation of 3D images which will be stored online for further use by researchers studying different parts of the animal or for them to conduct the same experiment without using another mouse.

According to Ertürk, the new technique has the potential to reduce the use of animal testing by tenfold.

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